Seeing Things (Columbia/ Starbucks Entertainment)
ESSENTIAL "Everybody Pays as They Go"
A few years back, Jakob Dylan quietly disbanded his rock band the Wallflowers. Now, just as quietly, he's slipping back into business. On his first solo release, "Seeing Things," which will be released June 10, Dylan is guided by the sure hand of producer Rick Rubin. Together, they offer up 10 tracks that focus squarely on what it means to be a singer-songwriter. As a vocalist, Dylan goes to new places, hitting higher highs and experimenting with a more emotional delivery. The approach suits the set of ruminative songs about the nature of evil ("Evil Is Alive and Well"), the incalculable costs of simply living ("Everybody Pays as They Go"), and the kaleidoscopic ways in which war is viewed ("War Is Kind"). The vocal nuances suit the spare instrumentation, which rarely grows beyond acoustic guitar, bass, and brushed drums. When all you've got is an acoustic guitar and a microphone, that voice better be compelling. Dylan, as a songwriter, may have lost interest in grand rock-band arrangements but not his sense of melody or storytelling. [Sarah Rodman]